Members Respond to Rod Paige
Tell Paige to move on
A grassroots political organizing group, MoveOn.org,
has created an online petition that demands the firing of Secretary
Paige. Sign the petition today by visiting www.firepaige.org.
Dozens of angry WEAC members have sent e-mails to
U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, condemning his remark in which he
called the NEA a "terrorist organization."
In an article about Paige's remarks to a meeting of
the nation's governors, OnWEAC provided Paige's e-mail address and asked
members to copy their e-mails to OnWEAC (see
story). As of Friday (March 5, 2004), OnWEAC received copies of
84 e-mails sent to Paige.
Some members, including Cathleen Hernandez of Waukesha,
praised WEAC and NEA for their quick and forceful responses to Paige.
"I would like to thank you and our (WEAC) President
Stan Johnson for your quick response to the hurtful remarks of Rod Paige
to the governors of the United States. I am grateful that I am a member
of such a great organization that replied so quickly and eloquently
to Secretary Paige's comments.
I have dedicated
my life to teaching for over 26 years and I was shocked to hear
such a remark about my profession from someone who is supposed
to be working to improve education in America.
Both Stan and (NEA President) Reg Weaver let everyone
know that an attack such as this is an attack on all teachers and the
diverse group of people represented by the NEA. We are the NEA and we
are the ones making a difference in the lives of children! I have dedicated
my life to teaching for over 26 years and I was shocked to hear such
a remark about my profession from someone who is supposed to be working
to improve education in America. We all need to work together to stop
Mr. Bush and his attempts to dismantle the public education system upon
which this country was founded. We know who is working to help every
child attend a great school it is a great organization
the NEA, and the NEA is us."
Following is a small sample of comments sent to Paige:
My wife and I were very saddened by your remarks. We understand that
you later apologized, but that does not undo the damage you caused.
I am a retired army veteran, and a practicing teacher. I believe that
I have a pretty good idea of what the term "terrorist" means.
Right now, many of my friends who are serving in the military are fighting
terrorists. They are fighting for your right of free speech. I am afraid
that you have abused that right. I believe that you need to resign as
a result of your comments.
Dear Mr. Paige:
I am deeply disappointed by the cheap shot you have chosen to take against
teachers by referring to them as terrorists.
I must remind
you that "teacher" is actually an antonym for "terrorist."
We give of ourselves daily in an effort to build responsible,
educated, problem-solving citizens.
Based upon my experiences as a teacher,
I must remind you that "teacher" is actually an antonym for
"terrorist." We give of ourselves daily in an effort to build
responsible, educated, problem-solving citizens, many of whom come from
broken homes. We encourage growth and achievement, not the destruction
of cruel terrorists. We are unable to vote for raises for ourselves
as do those in Washington, D.C., so how dare you criticize us for uniting
in our efforts to achieve a reasonable wage! Your choice of words is
Dear Mr. Paige:
The words you chose to use about teachers were shocking and demeaning
to me as an educator of 33 years. I am married to a teacher and my daughter
became a teacher who also married a teacher. I consider this my legacy.
If you were in my class you would have not been given a warning (yellow)
you would have gone right to the RED thinking square. You would be there
for violating my basic classroom rules: You have the right to your opinion
and NO PUT DOWNS! You perhaps would even be taken to the office and
your parents called.
In closing, SHAME ON YOU!
Dear Secretary Paige:
I have been an educator for 30 years and have always been proud to
be affiliated with both the Wisconsin Education Association Council
and the National Education Association.
I am NEA,
and when you attack the organization you attack my lifes
work and me.
I was horrified to hear your remarks and deeply resent your comments
implying that we are "terrorists." Since 9/11 that word has
become a very frightening one in our communities. Linking professional
educators to terrorism is demeaning and once again illustrates the inability
of the current administration to understand the service and dedication
that professional educators exhibit on a daily basis.
I personally do not feel that you act in the best interest of education
when you openly attack our professional organization. I am NEA, and
when you attack the organization you attack my lifes work and
me. An apology is not enough; I would like you to resign. With all due
respect, there is most certainly someone who will better serve the needs
of our children and teachers.
Mary Kay Hammes
Dear Secretary Paige:
I have been a Wisconsin teacher for 36 years in both private and public
schools. I have taught students from kindergarten to graduate school.
I hold a BA degree in Political Science, an MS degree in Guidance and
Counseling, and an MS degree in Educational Administration. I am a member
of the National Board of Certified Counselors, a member of the Board
of the Wisconsin School Counselors Association, a former member of the
Board of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, and a former Wisconsin
As an ex-police officer, I have great respect for the
rule of law. Your comment, that as a member of the NEA, I am a member
of a terrorist organization, is professionally and individually offensive
to me. The Constitution of the United States of America assures me that
I have every right to disagree with the actions of my government without
fear of retaliation. Your position, that because an organization disagrees
with you, that organization is "obstructionist" and "terrorist,"
is constitutionally, legally, and morally untenable. You may possess
the positional authority of educational leadership, but you have abrogated
the respect of myself and possibly millions of other dedicated teachers
throughout the country. As this is not the first time you have denigrated
the American public school teacher, I feel you no longer have the necessary
credibility to be an effective voice for public education in this country.
I request an apology and your immediate resignation.
John Cerny, BA, MS, MSED, NCC
My husband (who is a practicing public educator) and I (who am about
to complete my certification in education) are both very disappointed
with your choice of words when speaking of the NEA and all such teachers'
unions. Teachers are a special lot of people who put up with low pay
(for the amount of work and continued education we have to complete)
and lack of respect from the overall general population while being
dedicated to our students. We definitely don't do what we do in order
to get rich or have a lot of notoriety. We do it because we understand
the importance of educating people, helping them to be functioning members
of society, and because we just love kids (no matter how they treat
I hope that
you will make a public apology at the very least if not consider
backing down from your post after showing that you have such a
low regard for educators. We need to be working together, listening
to what the other has to say, and not fighting against each other
This is why we are disappointed with your harsh words, stating that
the NEA is a "terrorist organization." Yes, we have not agreed
with many of the choices made with the "No Child Left Behind"
legislation because we feel that it is overall very unrealistic and
punitive both for teachers and for students. There are better ways to
make sure that our educational system is the best, and here in Wisconsin
we have shown what we as public educators can do. ...
My husband and I are very strong supporters of our president, and despite
the No Child Left Behind legislation, we intend to vote for him at this
point. However, we are very disappointed to know that he has people
in his cabinet who are willing to make such terrible comments as you
made. My husband and I are born-again Christians, and we feel that it
is important that we be in the public school system in order to make
a difference in the lives of children. Because of our beliefs, we are
very happy to have a president who supports many of our views. However,
we are being hurt (as well as many other Christian teachers) because
we choose to practice in the public schools. My husband and I have already
dropped our backing of our previous governor because of the damage he
was trying to do to schools and because of some ungodly actions we saw
him take in other areas. We hope that we can continue to support our
president, and that he will take into consideration all of the people
he is affecting out here through his actions in education. Further,
comments such as the one you made cannot be laughed off or forgotten
about by simply saying that it was said in the "heat of the moment."
These are comments made based on your internal feelings, and they cannot
be taken back. I hope that you will make a public apology at the very
least, if not consider backing down from your post after showing that
you have such a low regard for educators. We need to be working together,
listening to what the other has to say, and not fighting against each
other like this.
Dear Secretary Paige:
Your recent comment that the NEA is a terrorist organization is not
only shocking but reflects a lack of integrity, intelligence and leadership.
Someone who occupies the position of Secretary of Education should,
at the very least, demonstrate these characteristics.
Your lack of respect for the very people who make a difference in the
lives of children, the very people your office aims to influence, is
unconscionable. Only weak leaders who have no leadership skills resort
to such outrageous, inflammatory comments as yours. Working with teachers,
instead of against them, should be one of your most important goals.
It would be like a general demoralizing the troops as they go into battle.
I don't think that general would remain in charge very long.
With your apparent distaste for teachers made public, your resignation
should be the next step.
Teacher for 32 years
Posted March 5, 2004